Paris: The chief of the UN culture agency Unesco has called on Libyans and international antiquities dealers to respect Libya`s ancient heritage and prevent looting of the country`s numerous archaeological sites.
"The heritage of a nation is essential to the ability of its citizens to preserve their identity and self-esteem, to profit from their diversity and their history and build themselves a better future," director general Irina Bokova said in a statement.
"With this timeless truth in mind, I call on the people of Libya, on neighbouring countries and all those involved in the international art and antiquities trade to do all they can to protect Libya`s invaluable cultural heritage."
Following the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq in 2003, the country`s archaeological sites were looted and artefacts showed up on the international antiquities market.
"Experience shows that there is a serious danger of destruction during times of social upheaval. It has taught us to look out for looting by unscrupulous individuals, that often damages the integrity of artefacts and of archaeological sites," Bokova said.